Are eBook Readers the death of bookstores?

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This has been a question more people are starting to ask, especially with the upcoming release of the Apple iPad coming up on April 3, 2010. The iPad however was not Apples first tablet. In 1993, Apple introduced the Apple Newton Message Pad. It had a black and white display that measured 336 x 240. There were different models that were released throughout the years until 1998 when the Apple Newton Message Pad was discontinued.

eBooks, despite that the first eBook was invented in 1971 did not have much of a market until November 19, 2007 when Amazon introduced the Kindle 1st Generation eReader. This is when the eBook market really took off in my opinion. So what was the difference between the Kindle and its predecessors? The Kindle has the ability to purchase and download books without being connected to a computer. The Kindle uses Amazon’s Whispernet which is provided by AT&T. This is free to the Kindle user.

Amazon has a huge library of eBooks you can purchase for $9.99 or lower. Amazon also offers some free books as well as magazine and newspaper subscriptions for a monthly subscription fee. Since the 1st Kindle was released, 2 other models have been released: The Kindle 2 in February 2009, and the Kindle DX in June of 2009. You can also download software from Amazon to buy and read Kindle Books on your PC, Mac, or iPhone for free and not have to own a Kindle.

Other competitors have released eBook Readers to compete with Amazon. Sony has released 3. The Sony Reader Touch Edition PRS-300 and Sony Reader Pocket Edition PRS-600 in August of 2009, and the Sony Reader Daily Edition PRS-900 in December of 2009. Sony had some earlier versions of eReaders before the Kindle was released but they never succeeded. Barnes and Noble released the Nook in November of 2009. Sony and Barnes and Nobles are presently the top 2 competitors with Amazon, but that is soon to change with the iPad from Apple.

The Apple iPad will have an eBook reader as well as access to the Apple App Store that the iPhone and iPod Touch uses. It will have a functional web browser that its competition lacks. You will be able to watch movies or listen to music as well. There will be 6 different versions of this device varying in storage capacity and Wi-Fi/Wifi+3G. If you get one with 3G, there is a monthly subscription cost you have to pay to AT&T. The 16 gig with only Wi-Fi starts at $499.

Back to the question of will eBook Readers be the death of bookstores…let’s look at earnings growth last year for the 2 major bookstore chains. Borders earnings growth for 2009 was -890.32%. Barnes and Nobles was -34.98%. Amazon’s earnings growth for 2009 was +36.91%. If you look at it from a numbers point of view, then yes eBook Readers are definitely affecting bookstores.

I used to love going to my local Borders and browsing books. I do not have a Barnes and Nobles in my town, so when I would travel and find one, I would spend a few hours in 1. But now that I have the Kindle App on my iPhone and my computer at home and at work, I rarely visit a bookstore. I was out of town last month and went to a Barnes and Nobles and was in there for 15 minutes. I enjoy the ease of it, if I want a book, I can browse the Amazon Kindle store and pick something out and have it in a matter of moments. I then have access to the book literally everywhere I go without having to lug a book around. The prices are also cheaper buying an eBook compared to a “real” book.

Submit your comments; let us know how you feel about the eBook Reader market excelling and the bookstore market being affected by it.

Earning Growth Figures obtained from http://money.cnn.com

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